Brian Nichols! Not guilty?!

The man accused of killing a judge and three others in a &to=http:// ' target=_blank>shooting rampage in Atlanta pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to multiple counts of murder, kidnapping, carjacking and other charges.

Brian Nichols, 33, entered the plea during a brief hearing in Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse, the same building where the March 11 rampage began. Nearly a dozen police and deputy sheriffs were in the court to provide security on Tuesday, tells ABC News.

A rape defendant accused of killing a judge and three others during and after his escape from a downtown courthouse pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder charges that could bring the death penalty.

At the brief hearing, Brian Nichols, 33, was polite and soft-spoken, answering routine questions from Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller. His lawyer entered a not guilty plea for him in the 54-count indictment issued earlier this month. Nichols is charged with murder, &to=http:// ' target=_blank>kidnapping, escape and other counts.

As with previous hearings in the case, there was extra security at the hearing Tuesday, held in the same Fulton County Courthouse complex as the March 11 shootings. Several plainclothes officers sat in the row behind Nichols.

Relatives of the victims and Nichols' parents were present in the courtroom. None spoke with reporters afterward. Prosecutors and defense lawyers also declined to comment.

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